Smash Pages Q&A | Zac Atkinson on ‘The Omega Eleven’

The artist talks about his inspiration for the project, creating his own versions of well-known characters and more.

Last week James Aquilone and Zac Atkinson’s Kickstarter for The Omega Eleven #1 launched, making short work of its goal in a matter of hours. The comic series stars history’s greatest thieves in a time travel heist, as they attempt to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from Merlin.

I spoke with Aquilone about the project when it launched, and today I’m happy to share my interview with Atkinson. We talk about his inspiration for the idea behind the series, his character designs for well-known characters like Merlin and Artful Dodger, and more.

The Omega Eleven #1 main cover by Zac Atkinson

I wanted to start by saying congratulations for reaching your funding goal — did you expect to reach it so soon? And did you do anything to celebrate?

Thanks man!  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad it’s resonating with people. I celebrated by eating tacos but it was Tuesday so that might have happened anyway, lol.

James mentioned in our interview last week that The Omega Eleven was originally your idea. What inspired the idea, and when did you first start thinking about it?

I was wanting to do some sort of pulp era super \hero group thing for awhile. I was a big fan of Warren Ellis’ Planetary and he sort of touched on that with his pastiches of Doc Samson, Tarzan and The Shadow, but a lot of those characters are still under copyright, so I thought it’d be interesting to play with public domain characters. Dr. Omega being a time traveler gives us the “how” to bring these characters together and the heists angle gives us the “why.”

The Omega Eleven #1 Calvin & Hobbes tribute cover by Zac Atkinson

What made James the right creative partner for you on this project? 

I knew I didn’t want to write it; my thoughts were too all over the place.  I was working on a lot of projects for James and he was successfully busting out classic properties like the old literary and movie monsters, Shakespeare and other classic properties—this seemed right up his alley.

You’re getting to play with some fun characters here, like Artful Dodger and Merlin, who readers will be familiar with. How do you go about designing them so they feel like the characters we know, but still feel like they’re distinctly yours? 

I’m taking what I find in research and doing my own spin. Dodger, for example, always wore adult clothes that were waaay too big for him, so I took that and updated it. He wears a tuxedo jacket that fits him like a trench coat, and he’s got some ragged jeans rolled up at the ankles. He also has a Dodgers hat, which gives off a Short Round vibe. 

I originally had Omega as an old man that looked a lot like the first Doctor William Hartnell, but James wanted him younger. I did still base his head/face feature on his original French version … his hair and nose and glasses are all indicative of a younger version of that guy. His outfit is what I’m most proud of. I tried to throw in elements of my favorite time travelers while giving him his own iconic look.

The Omega Eleven #1 Rick & Morty tribute cover by Zac Atkinson

Now that you’ve passed your goal, you’ve entered “stretch goal territory.” Are there any stretch goal rewards you’re particularly excited about that you can share or tease?

We’re thinking about adding some more original art options, coasters, more stickers, and possibly showing off a future character, and maybe adding a short story.

For more information on The Omega Eleven, check out the Kickstarter campaign page.

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